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Bear Fest 2012Easthampton Bear Fest 2012

2012 Bear Fest Artists Announced.

After deliberating for over five hours on February 26, the Bear Fest jury selected the designs for the 2012 Bear Fest. 40 bears will be creatively transformed by the selected artists and then exhibited on the streets of Easthampton from June – September. Artists will receive an initial commission and a percentage of the final selling price of the bear sculpture. Easthampton City Arts+ and the Bear Fest Committee are proud to announce the 2012 Bear Fest artists and their designs:

From Ribbons to Thorns by Rosemary Barrett of Easthampton
SteamPunk Bear by Lahri Bond of Lake Pleasant
Fishing Bear by Deborah Ann Burnham of Hadley
Dia Del Oso Muerto (Day of the Dead Bear) by Lyell Castonguay and Carand Burnet of Easthampton
Rainbow Spot by Luke Cavagnac of Easthampton
Spirit Bear by Victoria Chapman of Greenfield
Beehive Beardo by Wade Clement of Florence
Bearly There by Rhys Davies of Amherst
Ursa Major by Michelle DeMarco of Three Rivers
Respect Your Mother by Jennifer Dorgan of Westfield
Teddy’s Bear Picnic by Mischa Epstein of Springfield
Artie Bear by Theodore Fijal of Chicopee
Viva Easthampton! by Keith Fisher of Easthampton
Bearing the Fruits of the Harvest by Amalia Fourhawks of Florence
Bear(ing) the HeART of Nature by Catherine Gamble of Amherst
Clown Bear by Gary Hallgren of Granby
Bearly Giggling by Lynn Hraba of West Springfield
Winter’s Lament by Natania Hume of Amherst
Steel Clad Bear by Matt Evald Johnson of Easthampton
The Artist by Juli Kirk of Easthampton
Barely There by John Krifka of Northampton
Whimsey Wilbear by Gary LaCroix of Easthampton
The Bear Truth by Evan Lareau of Northampton
On the Wall Bear by Sarah Lasky of Easthampton
Shakesbear by Jill Lewis of Easthampton
Old School Biker Bear by Terra Missildine of Haydenville
Pieces and Patches by Carol Ostberg of Florence
Fun & Games Bear by Kim Parkhurst of Winchendon
Stuart Bear by Sarah Platanitis of Feeding Hills
Klimt Bear by Samantha Pliska of Easthampton
A Bear in Sheep’s Clothing by Tess Poe of Easthampton and Julie Flahive of Northampton
Luminous Bear by Crystal Popko of Ludlow
Bear Crossing by Nancy Potvin of Easthampton
Gilda Bear by Amanda Quinby of Easthampton
Paisley Bear by Ruth Sanderson of Easthampton
Michaelangelo’s Long Lost Captive Bears by Mark Stein of Hatfield
Birch Bear by Phoebe Stier of Springfield
Bearly Clothed by Soren Mason Temple of Northampton
Go Figure! by Whitney Wood Rahm of East Longmeadow

Steampunk Bear.

SteamPunk Bear

ECA Coordinator on 2012 Bear Fest

In 2009, Bear Fest was a summer-long installation of 67 fiberglass bears decorated by local artists. The 20 4½-foot bears, along with 15 other 2½-foot bears, were installed along city sidewalks in the downtown. Meanwhile, 32 14-inch tabletop bears, created by Easthampton students, were housed in local businesses.

At the end of the exhibit, the bears were auctioned off and raised nearly $60,000, which went to the Easthampton Public Schools, the art program at Riverside Industries, Easthampton City Arts and the Bear Fest artists.

Thousands of visitors admired and snapped photographs of the bears over the summer. "We're hoping to have double the amount of people who came before," she said. "I think it's more known, people have heard about it, and we've been doing more advanced planning and marketing."

Residents and visitors to Bear Fest 2012 will notice a few differences from the first event. One of the biggest differences will be the format of the whole festival, Maxey said. "We're using the same infrastructure, which was impeccably done, and just adding different events," she said.

Before, Bear Fest events were concentrated around the unveiling in June, Maxey said. This year, the events will be spread out as part of a program of "Summer Arts in Easthampton."

The events begin May 19 when the tabletop bears, which are decorated by local children at schools in Easthampton, Southampton, and Westhampton and artists from Riverside Industries, will be revealed at Cottage Street Open Studios.

After the bears are installed and unveiled June 9, the Flywheel Arts Collective and other local artists will also contribute to the bear buzz by unveiling bear-themed shows or productions, sponsored by Easthampton Cultural Council grants, Maxey added.

Organizers also tweaked the number of bears that will be on display. This year's lineup includes 15 large bears, 25 medium bears and 52 tabletop bears; compared to last year, there are more medium bears and more tabletop bears. "We wanted to make the larger ones more special, and the medium ones also sold better at the auction, probably because they are easier to place in a home or business," Maxey explained.

Bear Fest



It has been my pleasure and my honor to serve as Easthampton's mayor for all these years. Our city has come a long way and I want to thank everyone who has been a part of that journey. I want to congratulate the new Mayor, Karen Cadieux, and wish her every success in contributing to the next chapter in Easthampton's story.



Interview with ECA CoordinatorMayor Mike welcomes our new Easthampton City Arts Coordinator, Burns Maxey, for a chat about Bear Fest 2012 and other ECA happenings going on around Easthampton this year. Easthampton has a thriving arts community and the ECA is doing a great job of planning and organizing these events. With the return of the Bear Fest, the monthly Arts Walks, events at Old City Hall, Arts in the Park, and the Millside Concert Series, Easthampton has a full slate of entertainment on tap for this summer. You can watch the interview with Burns Maxey by clicking here.

To watch the newest "Ask Mike" video, a discussion on the upcoming School Override vote here in Easthampton, please click here.


In early April, the high school reached a major milestone when the "topping off" ceremony was held. The excerpt below was reprinted from WWLP.

The construction of High School Constructionthe new Easthampton High School has hit a milestone. For the students and faculty members of Easthampton High School, this new building has been a long time coming.

The current, aging, infrastructure, built in the early '60s, presents many challenges for the school.  The school's principal Dr. Vito Perrone told 22News that aside from space constraints, there are cracks on the walls and the foundation of the 85,000 square foot high school. 

Perrone said the $39 million project will include an auditorium, an amenity the school has never had, and an extra 20,000 square feet of space.  "The infrastructure of the building constrains our technology it constrains our programs and we really have to be creative to get around those constraints," he said.

On Tuesday the state's school building authority supported the funding of this project by donating $24.1 million during its topping off ceremony.  The last beam to be hoisted into place was signed by both students, faculty and city officials.   

Construction is expected to be completed by January of 2013, and students will move in that Spring. 


Cottage St MillsThe downtown areas of Easthampton are experiencing a revival as the economy begins to pick up. In addition to the new restaurant, Glory of India, opening at Treydon's old site, we welcome the Studio 72 hair salon, Dollar General store, the new cafe at the Massage School, and a furniture store to Easthampton. Union St will be busy this summer with the new businesses and the continuing arts events, including Bear Fest 2012.

Cottage St continues its revival as Popcorn Noir, the Wandering Peacock, Luthier's Coop, and Platterpus Too Cottage St muraljoin White Square Books, KW Home, Nash Gallery, Cottage St Studios, La Casita Azteca, and Mt Tom's Ice Cream as they all get ready for the busy summer season. Cottage St continues to be an entertainment center with Amy's, Brass Cat, and Whiskerz all presenting great live music.

The Annual Downtown Cleanup Day organized by our Chamber of Commerce is scheduled for Saturday morning, May 5. Volunteer crews will be working all along Cottage St, Union St, Main St, and Nash Pond. Please join us if you have time.

A new Farmer's Market is set to begin June 1 in the Municipal Building parking lot at 50 Payson Avenue. The market will run Fridays throughout the summer, from 2 to 7 p.m. Vendors will offer produce, plants, meat and more.


Oliver St Solar FarmAn agreement has been reached between Verizon and Western Mass Electric on the connection between the solar farm and the electric grid. The engineers have been trying to figure out how they would be able to cut the power from the solar array to the substation in an emergency. Until they have, the panels have been producing electricity but aren’t tied into the grid. After final testing, the solar panels will begin providing electricity for local and other needs. “This is part of the pitfalls (of being) early in the technology,” said Mayor Michael A. Tautznik. “These are some of the glitches you’re not going to run into (later on.)” The array was the first such project under construction in the state. The 2.3-megawatt installation is also the largest of those planned and is expected to save residents $1.5 million on power over 10 years.

Tautznik said the array was expected to save the city $84,000 in electricity costs this fiscal year but they won’t know until it becomes operational. “The system needs to be safe, it’s frustrating to wait.” He said work on the array was completed in December. State officials toured the project in October. Solar Farm Worker

But in an emergency such as a car hitting a utility pole, power has to be shut off instantly and until that can happen the power is not going to be connected to the city’s electrical system, he said. Engineers from Verizon and Western Massachusetts Electric Co. have agreed after further research that the existing copper wires are capable of doing the job and after final testing, the system will go live, Tautznik said.


EASTHAMPTON (From Springfield Republican, Diane Lederman):— The Pascommuck Conservation Trust has launched a fundraising campaign called “Save Open Space in Our Neighborhoods,” and is looking to raise $133,000 to help support the trust's recent acquisitions.

Pascommuck landThe trust, which hopes to save open space in every neighborhood in the city, has acquired 28 acres – 22 acres at Pomeroy Meadows Conservation Area along Paul Street and Ranch Avenue, expanding the site to 37 acres, and six acres that allow the expansion of the Brickyard Brook Conservation Area along East Street to 17.4 acres. The combined purchase price was $162,500.

“The really great thing (about these purchases) is they’re both adjacent to existing conservation areas. It’s not often you have the opportunity to do that,” said board member Doug Wheat. “We’re trying to make open space easily accessible in different areas.”

The Brickyard purchase allows for added access, he said. “We’re very exited to be able to do that.”

The goal is to raise $57,500 in local donations and another $75,500 in grants. The local donations will help the organization raise the grant money, he said. The money will help pay for developing trails, stairways, bridges and viewing platforms at the Pomeroy Meadows Conservation Area.

The total cost for the Pomeroy Meadows expansion, including land acquisition, is $95,000; the total cost for the Brickyard Brook expansion, including land acquisition, is $108,000. The Easthampton Community Preservation Act Committee has contributed $70,000 toward the land acquisitions.

pascommuck land mapPascommuck Conservation Trust

So far $8,500 has been raised in local donations toward the $57,500 goal.

Wheat said the trust was involved in the $2.85 million Echodale Farm purchase, but this fundraising goal is the largest the trust has launched itself.

The Pascommuck Conservation Trust has scheduled a tour of the Brickyard Brook property for Sept. 15 at 10 a.m., beginning at the end of Mt. Tom Avenue. A tour of Pomeroy Meadows is scheduled for Sept. 16 at 11 a.m., meeting at the end of Ranch Avenue. Both tours will cover land that does not yet have a trail system.

To make a donation to the “Save Open Space in Our Neighborhoods” campaign, visit Pascommuck Trust Fundraiser for Open Space on Facebook or mail a donation to Pascommuck Conservation Trust, P.O. Box 806, Easthampton, MA 01027.